Your Guide to SUP in the Yakima Valley

Your Guide to SUP in the Yakima Valley

August 3, 2022

Here are Some Tips to Get Started

Thank you to Shannon Mahre, owner of MADE and Girls with Grit, our guest contributor this week! Check out their upcoming SUP and trail clinics and classes.

What’s SUP? No really, what is SUP? Well, SUP stands for Stand Up Paddle Boarding and it is an amazing way to not only get out on our beautiful water ways, but to also get fit and in shape at any age. In our clinics, we’ve taught kids as young as 8 years old and adults as old as 80, and each and every one of them have excelled at and learned a sport that can take them on adventures that they never thought possible.

But before you head out on your board for an adventure, here are a few things you should know to not only make your experience on the water amazing, but to also ensure that your safety and the safety of your group are made a priority. 

Safety 1st … not 3rd

In Washington State, Stand up paddle boards are considered vessels, which means that legally, when you are on a board on the water, you MUST have a pfd, whistle and light with you at ALL times. (You do not need to be wearing these items, but they must be on board.) That being said, we recommend waist pfd’s only if you are a very good swimmer and you are on flat water (a lake) and it isn’t windy and there isn’t a chance of wind. If wind is in the forecast, we recommend always carrying a regular pfd on your board so that you can put it on if the water’s get choppy and the wind picks up. If you are on moving water (rivers), we always recommend wearing a regular pfd.

Know how to and practice how to get on your board if you fall in in deep water. This is something we teach at every single one of our clinics. Why? Because it honestly could save your life – and it is a skill that you MUST learn and be competent at before venturing out into water that is too deep for you to touch the bottom.

Form & Balance

Like any other sport, the “athletic stance” is key to getting your balance dialed on your SUP. Standing with your feet about shoulder width apart at the center of the board, with knees slightly bent, shoulders back and chest up, look ahead to where you want to go — not down at your board. This will help with your balance as well as your technique when you learn different paddle strokes.

Inflatable Board vs. Rigid Board

Not only are inflatable boards easier to store in the winter as well as get from location to location (they fit into a bag that also holds your paddle & your pump – and said bag usually has straps for you to carry it on your back), but they are also the best choice for somebody that wants to move between lakes, rivers and oceans. Yes, rigid boards are better for surfing and racing, but for the typical paddler that wants a fun board to adventure on, we always recommend inflatables. (We even take ours to Hawaii – many airlines check them for free).

Where to go around Yakima?

Rimrock Lake is absolutely beautiful and is a great spot for the beginner paddler. We especially love dropping in at Horseshoe Cove and paddling to some of the islands nearby for a snack before paddling back to the beach. Just be aware that the wind does pick up quite quickly at the lake – one minute it could be completely calm and the next, it’s white caps. Mornings are definitely calmer than most afternoons – fyi.

If you are looking to learn how to paddle but also get the skills and confidence to get a little more adventure for you and your family into your life, we recommend taking one of our Intro to River SUP Clinics. We start everyone off on our family-owned private lake in the Yakima Canyon where we give you the skills & confidence you need to not only tackle any lake you want to paddle on, but also how to navigate and adventure on mellow moving water. After the morning clinic on the lake, we head up river to get our “feet wet” on some very easy, moving water. After 2 miles, we stop at Canyon River Grill at Red’s Fly Shop and eat our gourmet to-go lunches river side before getting back out on the river for 6 more miles of scenic stops, natural beauty and skill-building. We pull out of the river right across from the lake we started the morning at – and after a quick jaunt across the road, we all enjoy a happy hour with tasty treats and local beverages during our post-clinic Q & A. (We also offer beginner lake clinics as well as private lessons and clinics.) ** Also, here’s a link to our recent video which highlights what a day in one of our Intro to River SUP Clinics is like —

The bottom line? There are so many beautiful lakes, rivers and water ways to explore if you have the skills and tools that you need to safely explore them. If you need help getting past your fears or mental blocks, need the physical tips, tricks and skills to tackle moving or flat water, or need a mix of the two, check out our website or shoot us a message. (We also off trail running, hiking, mountain biking & skiing clinics, lessons and guided tours as well.) We all truly are far more capable than we know — we just need to be open to learning, open to pushing our mental and physical limits we have set for ourselves, and open to having others give us the skills and confidence to take those baby steps we need to take to begin our next adventure. Who’s in?

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